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Young entrepreneurs use free ads to land summer work

This summer, Bruce Brown, 13, earned some money, and learned professional work skills in the process.

“I learned a lot of things. I learned how you gotta work, and you gotta do it the way the person wants it,” said Brown of his summer job.

Brown is one of the local teens who took part in the Curry Coastal Pilot’s free summer ad for area youth service.

Brown helps his neighbors with household chores and maintenance projects. He’s done everything from stacking wood to locking up chickens. 

“I like helping people,” Brown said. “I’m just trying to find some work and make good work habits for myself before I find a real job.”

Brown has completed about four or five projects this summer. 

“I’m saving to get something for myself, and maybe if I needed it any school supplies for myself so my parents wouldn’t have to buy my school supplies since I’m going to high school,” Brown said.

The free summer ad service usually attracts about a dozen participants each summer, and the Pilot has offered the service for at least 12 years, Pilot representative Laurie Steele said.

“A lot of these kids who have done this are repeat,” she said. “We’ve had about four repeats this year. They’re the first to call in. I guess they’ve had good luck with it.”

Matthew Bensing, 15, is another teen who advertised in the Pilot. He offered yard maintenance services.

“So many people read the newspaper ... it’s a good way to get your name out there,” Bensing said. “The summer is going slow, and being a teenager that can’t necessarily get a job, I decided I wanted to get all the experience I could, and extra cash for the summer.”

Bensing isn’t alone. Nationally, teens are struggling to find employment. According to national statistics, only one in four teens is employed.

So far, Bensing has had about five or six projects this summer. 

Bensing is saving his money to play golf his junior year of high school.

“I want to learn how to play, and to get on the golf team,” he said. 

Bensing said he also decided to try to find work this summer because it will help prepare him for future jobs.

“It gives me a sense of responsibility, and it gives me something to do over the summer,” Bensing said. 

Gary Cavaness, who hired Bensing, likes Bensing’s work, and said he would hire him again. Cavaness has Bensing cleaning up his flower beds, lawn and pulling weeds.

“He’s a good worker. He follows directions, and he completes the task. He’s thorough. When he has questions he asks ahead of time.”

The Pilot house ad first printed in mid-May, and will run until Aug. 13. Steele said it’s a $100 value that students receive for free.

Kyle Rice, 14, has also had a bit of luck advertising in the Pilot. 

“I get about two calls a week,” Rice said. 

Rice, who has coined himself a “computer whiz,” said his projects included removing a virus from a computer, reattaching a network card, and hooking up a printer. On average, it takes Rice 60-90 minutes to complete a project.

“I don’t really have a favorite project,” Rice said. “But I chose this because I do it normally whether I get paid or not. I guess I just like doing it.”

Rice gained his computer knowledge through trial and error. He started learning in sixth grade. 

Rice said he is saving for a camera to create short films.

Betty Sine, who hired Kyle, was so impressed with him that she decided to refer him to some of her friends.

“Well, I saw the ad in the paper, and it was impressive,” Sine said. “I was very happy with (his work). He seems like a very intelligent guy.”

She had him fix her television and hook up a wireless printer. 

“He was on time, and he just got right down to work,” Sine said. “And he was professional for a young kid.”

Students can start placing an ad in the Pilot the week after school lets out for the summer, Steele said. If teens are interested, they should fill out the in house ad, and bring it into the Pilot, Steele added.

Finally, Luis Rodriguez, 15, has had success with the Pilot’s summer advertising program.

He’s painted some fences, cut down a few trees and weeded a few yards.

“It seemed like a really good opportunity for me to try and find a job and to get some work and it has given me that,” Rodriguez said of why he placed an ad. “I like that I’m out in the open. I’m actually doing stuff outside. The people I’ve been working with have been nice and caring.”

Barbara DeMoss, who hired Luis, is very pleased with his work.

“He’s done a wonderful job,” she said. “He’s on time, and he’s very reliable, very polite. I just can’t say enough good things about him.”

DeMoss decided to hire him because she needed help weeding and cleaning up her garden.

DeMoss loves Rodriguez’s work. She said she plans to continue using him as long as he’s available.

The ad service is offered “to keep kids busy in the summer, and to give them a good work ethic,” Steele said. “They have to start somewhere.” 

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